Wednesday, 12 September 2007


I should have started this entry by talking about those photos. All show constructions I like very much. The first two are houses for sale at the French Atlantic coast, between Bordeaux and Biarritz. For the other ones, just read the text (that has become a bit too long).

Before coming here in 1998, I lived for 15 years in Neuilly, a suburb of Paris. I suppose that most people would agree with the statement that Paris is a beautiful city. And that's true.

However, if you look closely at that beauty you might realize that what is considered beautiful is at least hundred years old or more.

Have a look at all those constructions realized in the sixties, seventies etc. - in Paris and elsewhere - and you see lots of glass, steel and concrete put together at right angle as cheap as possible. Kind of boxes of different sizes.

Over the years I came to the conclusion that our modern ugliness is materialized by the right angle. Everything and anything looks aggressively square and I have the impression these are the modern barbarians. Lame brain barbarians utterly devoid of creativity and fantasy.

Talking about architecture I think we have at least a big chance. All this square concrete stuff is of very poor quality. Years ago I showed a friend the modern opera house in Paris (Opéra Bastille) about a year after its completion. There was already rust seeping out between the marble plates fixed on the outer wall to hide the concrete.

In 2002 I went to Berlin, my home town, and was shown around there. The infamous Berlin Wall had vanished without any trace and the town was once again the country's capital. So I had a look at the government buildings, situated right at the river Spree. Madre de Dios. Concentrated cheap ugliness everywhere. You look at it and depression crawls up and engulfs you.

One might think that modern buildings and houses must be ugly. But that is not so. Have a look at those two buildings. The first is a newly erected museum in Paris (Musée Quai Branly) and the other one is a building that has been erected with the help of the Austrian painter Hundertwasser (Hundertwasser-Haus in Vienna). And there are some quite good looking big buildings in the so called "third world" countries, like in Dubai or Kuala-Lumpur.

The first photo (the last added) shows a typical house in the Périgord region. In the background you see the quite recent Museum of Prehistory. To me, the latter looks a bit like an air raid bunker, though in sandstone and not in concrete.